Publisher fortunes could be boosted by new trading mechanics

26 Apr 2017  |  David Pidgeon 
Publisher fortunes could be boosted by new trading mechanics

Premium publishers may have proved that context and quality of environment amount to increased ROI for advertisers, but the trading mechanics have yet to catch up. By David Pidgeon.

Publishers, with their backs against the wall, have recently been busy proving their worth. Via marketing bodies Newsworks and Magnetic - representing UK newsbrands and magazines, respectively - a series of effectiveness studies have emerged cementing the view that premium publisher platforms are better places to advertise than so-called 'long-tail' websites.

It's a fairly straightforward argument that most people can buy: context and environment are important when advertising, and when you forget that fact your brand might end up on the front page of The Times because it is sitting next to some wildly unsavoury content.

It's the curse of automation in advertising; you get scale, but lose control. Smart advertisers are waking up to this problem, but there is another looming challenge before everyone is happy: the current trading mechanics do not fit this approach.

Leading UK publishers, including the Guardian and Financial Times, have argued that this must now change to reflect that not all platforms are created equal.

Speaking at a debate on the future of publishing, hosted by Mediatel and Ezoic this week, the Guardian's chief revenue officer, Hamish Nicklin said:

"At the moment we haven’t given agencies and clients anything new to buy against. All we’ve done is prove our environment works better, but then we expect people to buy against similar metrics they’ve used before...we haven't given them a trading mechanic."

Nicklin - who expects the Guardian to trade 100 per cent programmatically by this time next year, up from 80 per cent today - said he does not believe it would be difficult to create a new "common standard engagement score" to trade against - something that would rate "signals" such as ad viewability, dwell time and ad clutter.

"As soon as you can demonstrate a higher return on investment, then you can start trading against it," he said. "It’s not too onerous on the buy side, but it would mean everyone coming together to make it work. But I think we’d all benefit."

Sacha Bunatyan, global marketing director at the Financial Times, agrees but says brands and marketeers need to be a part of the conversation.

The FT already has its own measures of engagement - recording how often a user visits, how recent that visit was and how much they read - and uses this to mark it out from the pack.

It is signals such as these that could be translated into a new trading mechanic for agencies and clients to use - but there are some logistical problems, highlighted from the agency side.

"My worry would be that there are a whole load of trading mechanics that would come out of all this that would make it very complicated for clients to buy," said Sarah Hennessy, managing director, MEC.

"I don’t think new trading mechanics would be particularly helpful for us."

However, Nicklin remains optimistic: "A year from now I'd still hope that we've found a new currency to demonstrate [the quality of publishing] environment and that we're trading against it," he said.

"Or, at the very least, we're seriously debating how we implement something in this space."


A media answer to media's diversity problem? What my gran would say about Gillette Bauer launches new classical radio station IAB UK expands with two new senior positions iProspect promotes Jack Swayne to CEO, London

Related articles

Dmexco 2018: The digital publishing debate Only 28% of programmatic ad money reaches 'working media' It's time for publishers to embrace AI
Leave a comment

Thank you for your comment - a copy has now been sent to the Newsline team who will review it shortly. Please note that the editor may edit your comment before publication.

SimonRedican, CEO, Publishers Audience Measurement Company on 28 Apr 2017
“One major development which publishers and agencies must gear up for is the coming of Audience Meausement for Publishers (AMP). From next February, AMP will revolutionise the way in which publishers can monetise their audiences. For the first time it will be possible to carry out depulicated reach and frequency planning across all platforms. Our new digital panel will mean that it will be possible to include mobile in audience packages. Given that mobile is the largest platform for most publishers, adding an average 78% net reach that is a huge amount of extra inventory to plan and trade.

Much work needs to be done to package inventory and create new multi platform packages. New approaches to selling across all platforms and making this easy for agencies and advertisers to access are needed. PAMCo are working hard with agencies and publishers to ensure the market is AMP ready come Feb 2018.
If you want to know more email me at”


17 Jan 2019 

Data from Mediatel Connected
Find out more about the UK's most comprehensive aggregator of media data.

Arrange a demo

Newsline Bulletins

Receive weekly round-ups of the latest comment, opinion and media news, direct to your inbox.

More Info